Although sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are the clear champions of social and business to consumer interactions, when it comes to making professional or B2B connections, you can’t beat LinkedIn.
To reinforce the point, let’s take a look at some of LinkedIn’s statistics:
- It has over 150,000,000 members worldwide and 60 million of those are in the United States.
- Its audience has a larger number of “decision makers” (4.4 million) as compared to the leading competitors (Wall Street Journal = 2.6 M and NY Times = 3.3 M).
- In the business world, 3 out of 4 people use LinkedIn for everything related to business.
- 64% of users feel it has helped them build relationships and grow their business.
With so many active users, LinkedIn can offer you or your business exponential numbers of contacts and leads, since with each connection you make you have the potential to reach thousands or hundreds of thousands of people as users will naturally share your name or brand with their own contacts. Where else can you accomplish so much networking without ever leaving the office?
Besides expanding your list of associates, other benefits of LinkedIn are:
You Can Find Partners
You have the opportunity to meet tons of people in the same line of work as you (way more than what’s available in your geographic region). If you promote yourself well, you can easily set up partnerships or other mutually beneficial relationships.
Even if you aren’t interested in a partnership, you can still use the site as a way to get advice from other professionals in your industry. Asking questions of business-owners in your own city is usually awkward (especially if they are your rivals), but you can find plenty of people on LinkedIn who are happy to share their insight, since they aren’t in direct competition with your business.
You can’t promote yourself or your company if you don’t have a presence in the business arena. With LinkedIn, you can mix and mingle with the power players.
Introduce users to what you have to offer by creating a public information page that advertises your products and services. This is a quick and easy way to show others what you’re all about.
If you market yourself properly, people will soon regard you as an authority in your industry. You can even outshine those with far more experience just by staying visible and relevant.
LinkedIn is a great way to keep up with trends, news, and to stay on the cutting-edge of your field.
Finding Jobs & Recruiters
Tons of people use LinkedIn as a way to locate jobs or employees. Whichever side of the fence you are on, you are sure to find the largest concentration (as compared to other job sites) of highly-educated individuals and businesses at the top of their game.
Of course, it takes more than just signing up for LinkedIn to start building professional relationships; like anything else, you have to “sell” yourself. With that in mind, here are some ways you can make a good impression:
Complete your whole LinkedIn profile
The more information you provide about yourself and your business the more people will trust you and take you seriously. There are seven basic sections to your LinkedIn profile — fill out all of them, and include a professional picture of yourself (not your logo).
Once the initial contact is made or an invitation is accepted, follow it up with some other interaction. This is simply good business practice, and it opens the door for conversation. Also, you can take these relationships out of the virtual world by scheduling a phone call or, if they are near your location, setting up a meeting.
Although, it’s a business environment, LinkedIn is at heart a social network, so take advantage of it! Engage with others, post interesting links, make insightful comments, and get recognized as a beneficial contributor (not a shameless self-promoter).
A basic LinkedIn account is free, so it fits the budget of every individual and business (even if it is small or just launching). Essentially, the only thing it has to cost you is time, but you’ll likely find the more effort you put into the network, the more it pays off in your professional growth. So, when you’re planning your social media strategy, don’t forget to save time for LinkedIn as it can provide you with vital business connections that are hard to come by on other social sites.